Web site guides book lovers
you're serious about books, one of those islands of respite is a site put together
here in the real world in Chicago. It's called Bookslut, but don't let the faux
porno name fool you. If you are looking for naughty pictures of authors, you'll
Instead you'll find a virtual salon (which is the beauty
of Internet/Babylon, that you can live in the middle of nowhere, and still connect
to whatever it is that floats your boat, even if it is just on a monitor). The
site is the binary brainchild of Jessa Crispin, 28, who started it less than five
years ago and who kiddingly refers to herself as perhaps a "literary community
builder, book dictator, and/or role model for English major dropouts."
Her site's success has led to her becoming the publishing columnist for the
Book Standard, the comic book columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a free-lancer
for the Guardian, Chicago Reader, Washington Post, and Globe & Mail.
"I wanted to accomplish two things with Bookslut," said Crispin. "When
I was reading obscure writers years before I started the site, I would finish
the book, Google the author's name, and come up with nothing. It
was like I
was the only one in the world who had heard of the writers I was reading. So I
wanted to provide something to read when you Google an author's name. And unsurprisingly,
if you Google most authors' names, Bookslut is on the first page of results."
"Second, I wanted to give people who don't read as much an idea of where
to start. We're very enthusiastic about the literature we read, so if we really
like something, we'll let you know. Also, if we feel something is a waste of time,
we'll let you know. This year I think Kathryn Davis's The Thin Place is absolutely
amazing and should be read by every human."
Beyond bricks and
In addition to reviews, the online magazine's features include
interviews with authors and Crispin's blog. And every so often, Bookslut goes
bricks and mortar with authors giving readings, including one on July 20 at the
Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St., a bar in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood.
That evening featured JC Hallman talking about his nonfiction The Devil
is a Gentleman, a look at outside-the- mainstream American religions; David
A. Karp discussing his collection of oral histories taken of those
mood disorders, Is It Me or My Meds?; and
juggling/singing author Hillary Carlip.
"If I don't practice a lot,
not only could I hurt something, but when I perform the act, let's just say it
could wind up a 'floor show,'" said Carlip
Carlip also knows how
to breathe fire, and the juggling routine plays a pivotal role in her recently
published memoir, Queen of the Oddballs. The act made her a champion at the age
of 19 on The Gong Show - which means her recollections aren't exactly the miserable
Irish childhood of Frank McCourt, but the musings of a kid who grew up a little
too close to Hollywood.
As such, Carlip appeared on Art Linkletter's
Houseparty at the age of eight; spent a summer vacation tracking down folk rocker
Carole King;taught Lucille Ball how to juggle through a third party; and, the
pinnacle of making it these days, appeared on Oprah to promote her first book,
"I still have the mug I received from my appearance
on Oprah ... and it's a constant, bitter reminder that I am probably one of two
authors to have their book featured on Oprah that's not become a best-seller.
But I'm in good company with Carnie Wilson," said Carlip.
editor and founder Crispin (and just about everybody else with a computer) Carlip
has Web presence, too. Hers includes her eponymous site, www.hillarycarlip.com
and creating and editing the personal essay site, FreshYam.com.
book, as on a Web page, Carlip breaks up the words with visuals: "I include
a handwritten letter from Carly Simon, which she sent to me when I was 14 and
she was a huge star, assuring me I was a friend, not a fan; a flyer from a demonstration
I helped plan as a teen for Women Against Sexism in the Media, where we picketed
the Dean Martin Show at NBC; and pics of my all-girl, all ex-con band," she